Let me begin by making a profound statement…
Men and Women are different. Why is that important? Studies show that women influence 85 percent of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to health care. Women account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce. A winning combination in anyone’s business. Unfortunately many companies overlook the fact that with that high a percentage of women making decisions we don’t always know how to communicate with this market effectively.
One of the major key gender differences is communication style.
Men are generally transactional. They want to get straight to the facts and close the deal. Women are relational. They want to develop a relationship first. Women are known for building relationships. Women have relationships with everyone they know and everything they buy.
Men exchange information and women have a relationship with the information they exchange. With transactional sales we see the salesperson has a product or service that is in need of a buyer. The product is the focus instead of the customer’s needs.
Relationship sales are customer focused rather than product focused. In this process, the client is involved and the solution becomes a joint venture. This process is based on the idea that a long-term relationship is being developed.
Another communication strategy found more often in women is the increased importance of asking questions. Men ask questions to gather information while women will ask many more questions to both gather information and begin to cultivate a relationship. For someone who doesn’t understand why, these extra questions may see incessant, but women understand that the more questions that are asked, the more you will find out about your client. This is your time to be interested not interesting.
While men concentrate on facts and figures and are closing the deal more quickly than women, and women are focused on connecting and solving problems together, the styles are different. Neither method is right or wrong, they are just different. For those that both see and embrace those differences will most definitely see a difference in working relationships and in your bottom line.
Here is the truth; asking questions will begin the relationship with your client, listening will cement it! Asking questions means different things to men and women.
Men ask questions for one purpose only: To gather information.
For women, asking questions serves two purposes: One is to gather information and the other is to show interest in what the other person has said to cultivate the relationship.
For women, it’s all about connecting; connecting with the salesperson, their business, and connecting others. Men on the other hand exchange information and women have a relationship with the information they exchange.
Understanding the types of questions will help you understand what tools are in your toolbox. Understanding how men and women communicate will help you understand which of those tools to use.
With these tools in mind, there is also a difference in how men and women approach questions – how they ask them, how they react to them, how they answer them, and how they use the information elicited from them. Remember, the core difference in the way men and women communicate is that men are transactional; and women, relational. This means that men want to get straight to the facts and close the deal quickly. They look to develop a working relationship later. Women, on the other hand, want to develop a relationship first, and then they make the sale. A caveat to those men that are relational and those women that are transactional, studies have shown that most men are transactional and most women are relational…there are always great exceptions to the rule.
In business and in life, we are all in sales. So, whether you have “sales” in your title or if you are selling yourself within your company or in an interview, keep these three questions in mind when it comes to making the sale.
1: What are you trying to accomplish?
What is the goal is of your questions. Set an agenda about the key points you need to get across or facts you need to gather. You want to take your time to do this right, but you also don’t want to waste anyone’s time.
2: What types of questions should you ask?
To begin building a relationship, you need to ask open-ended questions. To get specific facts, ask closed questions, and clarifying questions. Using a variety of types of questions will give you both the information you need as well as help to build a long-term relationship.
3: Who is your customer?
Know who you are speaking to and ask questions that will either gather the facts and get to the point quickly or help you to dig deeper so that you are building a relationship. Your goal is to make the other person’s life and job easier.
Understanding and embracing the differences between men and women in your company, your team and your office will create an environment for success. As the saying goes, “And from their differences came understanding.”